Friday, March 2, 2012

Radio Silence

"In telecommunications, radio silence is a status in which all fixed or mobile radio stations in an area are asked to stop transmitting for safety or security. . .”
- Wikipedia

“Turning On” has become such a routine part of our everyday existence: wake up; plug in iPod; turn on TV; start car and turn on radio; muzak in the elevator and at the office. I believe we have forgotten how to live with silence. What are we afraid of?

Is there some kind of insecurity that is gnawing at our souls? Is it loneliness? Despite our amazing technological interconnection, I think fear of being alone still permeates our collective millennial subconscious. We need to fill up the silence with the frenzied cacophony of our modern world. In the process of turning on, we are turning off a window to God.

I’m a Catholic vegetarian, so I am sometimes asked what I abstain from on the Fridays of Lent. This year, I thought I would try something new: radio silence. Please understand, as a freelancer, I do most of my work at home alone. First thing in the morning, without giving it any thought, I turn on television sets in several rooms around my house as my iPod plays continuously throughout the day. I suppose this helps to give me an illusion that I am not alone in this world. After all, look at all the talking heads yammering away on those screens!

I admit this was more difficult than I expected. On Ash Wednesday, I went cold turkey with radio silence, and the temptation to flick on the switches was great indeed. But within the enforced silence came an unexpected gift: the gentle urge to pray.


Here is a prayer I wrote anonymously for Spirit & Song-2 (on page 273). I need to listen better to myself!

Be Still

I searched for God
in my avalanche of
emails and voicemails,
IMs and txts,
TVs and MP3s,
but the Lord was not in the electronics.

I searched for God
in the drone of endless conversations
that permeate the hurried pace of
my daily routine,
but the Lord was not in the clatter.

I could not find the Lord,
though I searched in vain
through all that surrounded me!

And then, I heard a gentle voice.
“Be still.”

There, within the silence
of my own inner peace,

I found God.